Krishnamurti on Emotion and Sentimentality
This week’s episode on Emotion and Sentimentality has eight sections.
The first extract (2:10) is from Krishnamurti’s fifth talk in Saanen 1976, titled ‘Emotions are natural, healthy, normal’.
The second extract (5:25) is from the third discussion in Saanen 1976, titled ‘Emotion untouched by thought’.
The third extract (14:06) is from the fourth talk in Saanen 1970, titled ‘Thought divides intellect and emotion’.
The fourth extract (23:17) is from the third discussion in Saanen 1971, titled ‘Watching without thought or emotion’.
The fifth extract (30:45) is from the second talk in Saanen 1984, titled ‘Health without emotional strain’.
The sixth extract (39:50) is from the second question and answer meeting in Madras 1981, titled ‘Looking at emotion anew’.
The seventh extract (49:02) is from the third talk in New York 1974, titled ‘Sentimental people are violent’.
The final extract this week (53:10) is from the fifth discussion in Saanen 1975, titled ‘Compassion has no sentimentality’.
Emotions Are Natural, Healthy, Normal
What are emotions? Emotions are sensations, aren’t they? You see a lovely car or a beautiful house, a beautiful woman or man, and the sensory perception awakens the senses. Senses, then what takes place? Contact – right? Contact then desire. Now thought then comes in. Can you end – please listen to this – can you end there and not let thought come in and take over?
I see a beautiful house, well-proportioned, with a lovely lawn, a nice garden. All the senses are responding because there is great beauty – well-kept, orderly, tidy – all the sensations respond. Why can’t it stop there? Can it stop there and not let thought come in and say, ‘I must…’ and all the rest of it. Then you will see emotions or sensations are natural, healthy, normal. But when thought takes over, then all the mischief begins.
So to find out for oneself whether it is possible to look at something with all the senses and end there, and not proceed further. Do it! That requires, as we said, an extraordinary sense of awareness, in which there is no control. No control, therefore no conflict, just to totally observe that which is, and all the senses respond and end there. There is great beauty in that.
Krishnamurti in Saanen 1976, Talk 5
Emotion Untouched by Thought
K: What is emotion? What is the relationship of emotion to thought? Is emotion independent of thought or is thought part of emotion? Emotion, what does that mean, the word itself?
Q: To move out.
K: To move out. It comes from the words ‘motion’, ‘motive’, and emotive: out.
Now, I am asking: emotion, feeling, sentiment, sensation, have they any relationship to thought? Sentiment, emotionalism, romanticism, what is their relationship to thought? And emotion, sentiment, romanticism, what relationship have they to love? You understand my two questions? Which is, the relationship to thought and the relationship to love.
Is love sentiment? Is love romanticism? Is love a sensation? So what is emotion, to move out?
I feel very strongly about something. What does that imply? You feel something very strongly about, what? Hinduism. It doesn’t matter what. Or communism, or dictatorship. Let’s call it not communism but dictatorship! Communism is now becoming bourgeois! (Laughter) So we can carry on.
Have you emotions? What is its relationship to thought? Wait, wait. Go carefully, carefully.
Q: It’s without relation to thought.
K: That’s what I am going to answer. Find out. Don’t categorise, let’s play with it. If there was no thought would you have emotion or sensation? So we are asking, what is the relationship between thought and emotion? I see something very beautiful: perception, seeing, contact, sensation, desire, then thought. And thought builds the image, which is established. So there is perception, seeing, then contact, then sensation. If thought doesn’t interfere there, if it stops there, then there is only sensation. I wonder if you are meeting my point. Please don’t accept this; I may be totally wrong, so examine it, investigate it, question it.
That is, I see something which is most pleasurable. The seeing awakens the senses – right? All the senses are awakened, and can it stop there and not allow desire, thought and image? You follow what I’m saying? Then is emotion merely sensation, untouched by thought? Therefore it is no longer a movement of desire.
Have you understood? It is fairly simple. I see a beautiful – what? Tell me something.
K: Woman? (Laughter) Ah, I thought so. You all love that, don’t you?
There is the perception of a beautiful woman. Religions have condemned desire because by perceiving that woman, seeing that woman, all the sensations arise, then thought comes in, the image is formed and the battle begins. So throughout the world, the religious monks have said cut out desire, suppress it, control it, don’t look at a woman. Right? I don’t know if you have walked behind any priests or a group of monks. If you have, you would notice this – they look and promptly look away. (Laughter) Because they daren’t. The whole tradition says suppress it, deny it. But what we are saying is something entirely different.
Seeing that beautiful woman or man, sensations awaken, which is natural, and to stop there, not let thought come in – then the desire begins, then the image-making begins. You follow? You try it, do it sometime and you will see the extraordinary discipline it demands. Discipline in the sense not imposing a pattern, but the act of learning, which is discipline. The seeing of beauty, the sensations arising and withering away. They do not wither away when thought comes in because then desire begins and all the problems.
Krishnamurti in Saanen 1976, Discussion 3
Thought Divides Intellect and Emotion
One has to find out if thought by its very nature and structure does not divide life into many, many, many problems, and if we try to find an answer through thought it is still an isolated answer, and therefore breeding further confusion, further misery. So first of all, one has to find out for oneself, freely, without any bias, without any conclusion, if thought operates this way. Because most of us try to find an answer intellectually or emotionally, or intuitively.
When one uses the word ‘intuition’ one must be terribly careful of that word. In that word lies great deceptions because one can have intuition dictated by one’s own hopes, fears, bitterness, longing, wishes, therefore one has to beware of that word and never use it.
So we try to find an answer intellectually or emotionally, as though the intellect was something separate from the emotion and the emotion something separate from the physical response and so on. And as our whole education and culture is based on this intellectual approach to life, all our philosophies are based on intellectual concepts, which is rubbish. All our social structure is based on this division and our morality is too. So if thought divides, how does it divide?
You are following all this? Please do it as we are talking and not just play with me. Actually observe it in yourself. That’s much more fun and you will see what an extraordinary thing you will discover for yourself. You will be a light to yourself, you will be an integrated human being, not looking to somebody else to tell you what to do, what to think and how to think.
So, does thought divide? And what is thought? Thought can be extraordinarily reasonable, reason consecutively, and it must logically, objective, sanely because it must function perfectly, like a computer ticking over without any hindrance, without any conflict. Reason is necessary. Sanity is part of that reasoning capacity. And what is this thinking, what is thought?
Can thought be ever new, fresh? Because every problem is new, fresh. Every human problem, not the mechanical or scientific, but every human problem is always new. And life being new, thought tries to understand it, tries to alter it, tries to translate it, tries to do something about it. So one must find out for oneself: what is thought? And why does thought divide?
If we really deeply loved each other, not verbally but really – and that can only take place when there is no conditioning, when there is no centre as the ‘me’ and the ‘you’ – then all these divisions come to an end. But thought apparently, which is the activity of the intellect, the brain, cannot possibly love. It can reason, logically, objectively, efficiently. To go the moon thought must have operated in the most extraordinary way, but whether going to the moon is worthwhile or not, that’s a different point, whether it’s insanity or the logical conclusion of technology.
So thought has to be understood. And we asked whether thought can see anything new, or is thought always old? And when it faces a problem of life which is always new, it cannot see the newness of it because thought observes it first and therefore tries to translate the thing it has observed in terms of its own conditioning.
Krishnamurti in Saanen 1970, Talk 4
Watching Without Thought or Emotion
This requires watching. Not concentration but watching. In watching you are learning. I am doing that now. I say when I am watching, if there is in that watching any operation of thought, that must inevitably result in tension, in contradiction, in resistance, because it is the determination of thought to achieve harmony, and therefore it says, ‘I must’. So I have learnt. I am asking myself then, what is watching? If it isn’t thought, then what is this quality of watching in which there is no thought? Is it the heart watching? Emotion, the desire, the feeling of how beautiful it must be – you follow? – if I lived a harmonious life, what a lovely thing it will be – getting excited by the image of harmony, which is also a resistance.
So am I watching with any kind of resistance? And is that watching related to the mind, to the heart or to the body? Or is it something outside of it? Wait, wait, I am not saying it is; don’t jump to it. I am asking, inquiring. When there is no resistance, no operation of will – right? – no acceptance or denial, just watching, is that watching the exercise of thought? We said no – right? Are you quite sure? If it is the exercise of thought, then thought is watching and thought says, ‘I am watching because I want to get somewhere, I must get rid of my imbalance, I must not be neurotic’ – thought is in operation because thought has been instructed by listening to this talk that it must live a harmonious life. And thought according to that instruction is trying to live because it wants to live a harmonious life. It doesn’t matter what it means, but it wants to.
So thought is not watching – right? Emotion isn’t watching, obviously. If I say, ‘I love to…’ – you follow? – then it is lost. So what is then watching? What is the quality of watching? Do live with it for two minutes. Don’t answer me please, just look at it. It is not thought, obviously. Right? You are quite sure? The moment it is thought – thought is memory, the old – thought then says, ‘I must,’ ‘I must not,’ then in that there is a contradiction and therefore that is not watching. We have been through that. Therefore watching is not the product of thought. Listen to it carefully. You get it if you go step by step. It is not an emotional, aggressive assertion that I must watch. It is not getting enthusiastic about watching.
So what is watching? Now listen to this carefully. I’ll repeat this. You will see it. It is not thought because thought has said, ‘I’ll watch’ – in watching it has discovered it is operating from the past and that it must achieve harmony because it has heard some person say, ‘You must live a harmonious life,’ therefore it says, ‘I must, it must be a marvellous state.’ So thought wants to live a life of harmony and thought cannot live a life of harmony because thought is the response of memory which is the past. Harmony means living now. So it is not thought. I have learnt that. The mind has learnt it is not thought. Therefore what is it? It is intelligence, isn’t it?
Now it is intelligence that is watching. So, in looking at thought, observing, not saying, ‘I must not use thought,’ or ‘I must use thought’ – in observing thought and all the activities of thought, out of that observation comes intelligence. This intelligence is the result of observation of the workings of thought.
So, now that intelligence is watching, is watching the mind, watching the body, watching the heart. That intelligence says don’t eat that food because yesterday you had pain; give it up. And because intelligence is in operation you give it up instantly.
Krishnamurti in Saanen 1971, Discussion 3
Health Without Emotional Strain
What is health? Can there be a healthy biological organism when there is constant conflict between each other, one opinion opposing the other, one expressing his desires fully against others’ desires? This constant struggle, strain and conflict in which human beings live, does that contribute to health? Then that means those are the factors of ill health. Psychosomatic diseases – you understand all this? So can there be intellectual health, and emotions which are healthy, not romantic sentimentality and all that, that conduces to ill health. I don’t know if you are following all this. So we must inquire very deeply what it is really to be healthy.
This inquiry is not just when you are reaching death or on the deathbed, but one must inquire right from when you are very young or middle aged, or now as the speaker is. What is health? And health implies energy, tremendous energy. And we dissipate that energy through conflict, through strain, through all kinds things: tobacco, drinking, you know all the business of it. And without engaging in food fads. You know what that means? Crazy about food, only concerned with what one eats and nothing else. Without becoming ‘food fads’, find out if the brain can live without a single conflict. That means without any kind of emotional or intellectual strain.
You understand all this? Are you doing it as we are talking, or you are just listening, agreeing and perhaps at the end of the day you will try to think about it. You understand my question? Are we doing this together, seeing how ill health is brought about, heart trouble and all the rest of it?
Suppose one is highly intellectual, only using that part of the brain which is called the intellect, which is only concerned with discovering new ideas, new expressions, new ways of putting it, new concepts, and disregarding the whole of one’s existence, biological and other ways of living, completely caught in that. That then affects the health, naturally. And if one is highly emotional, romantic, sentimental, that also brings various forms of conflicts which effects ill health. Health means energy. Not through drugs, not through alcohol – oh, need I explain all this silly stuff? – but when there is no conflict whatsoever then there is tremendous health. And we said there is freedom. We talked about health and energy.
There is intellectual energy. The intellectual energy is when they have put a robot on the moon. It requires tremendous intellectual energy. To invent all the horrible things of war requires great intellectual capacity and energy. There is emotional energy by itself, perhaps slightly modified by the intellect, but when we are sentimental, emotional, a kind of ugly vulgar sentimentality, that too deprives energy.
Are we together in this? I don’t know if you are or we are not. I hope I am not talking to myself.
So what is energy which is not dissipated or wasted at all? This is important to understand, the quality of energy which is highly intelligent, highly capable of reasoning, highly capable of analysing, looking, observing, self-critically aware and therefore constantly removing any impediment in the movement. That requires a great deal of energy.
Krishnamurti in Saanen 1984, Talk 2
Looking at Emotion Anew
Now, can I know myself? Know – that is, I have learnt, I have seen, I have been aware that I am angry. That’s part of my being, that’s part of me. I am aware that I am angry. Why do I use the word ‘anger’? Think it out, let’s work it out. Why do I use the word ‘anger’? Because I have been told, I have been educated, I have accepted that word and I remember the previous angers which have been named. So when there is a new reaction of that emotion, I name it. So what have I done?
I am angry. Let’s go back, step by step. The anger is not different from me. I am anger. I like to think it is different from me because I can control it, I can rationalise it, but it is part of me. That’s a fact. And I have named it as anger because that is part of my tradition, part of my inheritance, all that, the word. The word has become important, not the feeling. You see it?
So there has been anger in the past. I recognise this feeling which has arisen now as anger, by the remembrance of the past. So am I capable of looking at that new emotion without the word, without recognizing it as the past? You understand? I wonder if you see this. It requires a great deal of observation. That is, we are always living in the past. That’s so obvious. And the past is a series of memories, which are words and symbols. And with that, a new reaction takes place and I immediately name it. Which means I have brought it back into the old tradition. Whereas if I could look at that reaction, the new reaction without the word and without saying, ‘I know it’s anger,’ so that you meet every reaction afresh, that means your brain is extraordinarily alive, sensitive, not just caught in old repetition. Will you do that? That is, to be aware of this whole movement of some reaction and naming it. The very naming of it is to strengthen the past, and so you are strengthening anger by repetition of the word.
The ancient Greeks and Hindus have talked about self-knowledge, knowing oneself. That is, I want to know myself because if I don’t know myself I am just a leaf in the wind. So I have to learn about myself, not according to some psychologist, some philosopher or from some book. (Whether you call it sacred or not, it is just a book.) So can I dispense with all that, the authority of what other people have said about me, the tradition – you follow? – put aside completely all that? Because what they tell me, I am not. I wonder if you see all this. I have to discover myself. Myself is a living thing, so I have to learn.
Now, I have seen I am angry, or I have had an experience. Whatever it is: an experience. It has been recorded in the brain, which has become the memory. With that memory I examine myself. So the past is examining myself. But I am the past. I wonder if you see all this. So is there a way of looking at myself as though for the first time? Not with jaded memories, not with previous knowledge which I have learnt about myself. That is, to learn about myself anew because I am a living thing, not a dead thing. You may be dead because we are all so caught up in memories, which are dead. Tradition is dead.
So it becomes extraordinarily interesting, vital, energising if you can look at that tree as though for the first time, at your wife for the first time, and at your reactions, your sensations, not name them, which is to catch it in the net of the old, so that every time it is new.
You understand this? Do it. Don’t agree with the speaker. You will see what extraordinary vitality one has. Not to do mischief – that you have anyhow – but the energy that has an extraordinary quality of freshness, of something totally new.
Krishnamurti in Madras 1981, Question and Answer Meeting 2
Sentimental People Are Violent
Haven’t you noticed that sentimental people are very violent? Not the people who have affection, who care, but people who are swayed by opinions, which is really sentimentality by belief.
Now, has sentimentality, sentiment, which is emotionalism, anything to do with love? And romanticism, the people who rush off to India or Japan to meditate, they are romantics, aren’t they? They think India can give them something because there are a great many so-called holy men there. You know, it is one of the easiest things in India to put on a certain robe and go around begging, and that is the tradition established long ago by Brahmins who said, ‘A man who gives up the world, his responsibility is to teach people how to live a righteous life, a life of goodness,’ and they established that tradition many, many centuries ago. And now you put on a robe but you can have any kind of mischief in your mind, and you become a holy man doing some kind of tricks. Or you go there to learn some kind of phoney meditation. And all that is romanticism. Anything far away becomes much more pleasant – the next field is greener than yours.
Now, sentimentality and romanticism do breed violence, for sentimentality is based on pleasure. Romanticism is also a form of pleasure, and when your pleasures are stopped, don’t you become violent? Don’t you become violent when your ambitions are thwarted? Ambition is a form of sentimentality, not rational thinking.
So love has nothing whatever to do with sentiment, opinion, judgement, justification or romanticism. Which means love has nothing whatever to do with violence.
Krishnamurti in New York 1974, Part 7
Compassion Has No Sentimentality
K: What is love and compassion? Is the love that we have spacious, or is it terribly limited? Is compassion without border, therefore having infinite space? We are going to examine that. The love that we have in the world of reality, that love is pleasure. Would you acknowledge that or you are all too holy for that?
Q: The way we love is sentimental.
K: Sentimentality. Love is called sentimentality, romantic, pleasurable, and the pursuit of that pleasure is called love. I love you because you give me sexual satisfaction, or you give me comfort, you support me, you fulfil my loneliness; I depend on you emotionally, psychologically and physically. So I am attached to you, and when there is any trouble between you and me, there is antagonism, there is jealousy, being wounded, there is hate. All that we call love and say, ‘I am very sensitive.’
So in that love, as we call it, which is both divine and not divine, the divine love is the invention of thought. And we are saying in that love there is no space. Because there is no space, there is violence in it.
Then what is compassion? And is love pleasure? Is love the fulfilment of desire? I love you and in that there is pleasure. And if in that love there is any disturbance, there is jealousy, antagonism and all the rest of it. And in that love there is no space because I am holding, I am clinging. I don’t have to go into all that silly stuff – right?
So the so-called love has no space and therefore that love is really irresponsible. And responsibility comes into being only when there is compassion. Compassion, not for you. Compassion. Like the sun, it is not shining for you. So where there is vast space there is compassion. And that vast space cannot come into being if there is a centre as the ‘me’.
So without compassion, there is no meditation. You understand? Because without compassion, which means passion for everything, care for everything, respect for everything, without compassion what is sacred can never be found.
You know, thought has created something sacred – the temples, the churches, the symbols – and we worship those symbols, and call those sacred. But it is the movement of thought in time and measure, so that is not sacred.
Once in India, the speaker was asked to visit by the followers of Mr Gandhi, and he said, ‘All peoples can enter, every type of strata of human society can enter into that temple, for God is there for everybody’. And they asked me, ‘What do you say to that question?’ I said, ‘Anybody can enter, it doesn’t matter who goes in because God isn’t there.’ God is an idea put together by thought. But one has to find that which is eternally, incorruptibly sacred. And that can only come when there is compassion. Which means when you have understood the whole significance of suffering – not only of yourself but the suffering of the world. The suffering of the world is truth; it is there. It is not a sentimental, romantic fluttering of thought; it is actually there, as in us. And to live with that suffering, go to its very end without escaping from it, when you don’t escape, you have tremendous energy to meet that suffering. Then only you go beyond it. Out of that comes compassion.
So meditation then is none of the things that have been traditionally brought from India to this country or abroad. Those are all the activities of thought. Meditation is the total comprehension of the movement of thought, giving it the right place, the correct place. Thought has its correct place, and that correct place can only be understood or seen or have an insight into when you understand totally the movement of thought – all its activity, all its cunning, its deceptions, its illusions.
Then when you understand pleasure and the whole significance of fear, out of that there is this thing called suffering, which man has never been able to solve. Christianity has made a parody of it. We have never been able to solve it, and therefore we have never been compassionate. And compassion comes only when you have understood the whole meaning of suffering, and no longer suffer. And therefore out of that comes compassion. It is only the compassionate mind that can meditate and find that which is eternally sacred.
Krishnamurti in Saanen 1975, Discussion 5